Live window displays and the Million Dollar Hat

I cannot believe it is only five weeks to Christmas, it seems only a few months ago that I was writing my blog leading to the festive season of 2015.

So, back to my story of the many changes we experienced in the late 1990s. As I mentioned in my October blog, with Nicholas Pike now established at Glenside, Helen and I had taken the plunge and established ourselves in the Burnside Village precinct and although the Greenhill Road Gallery was not strictly in the Burnside Village, we were certainly very close. I’ve already mentioned that we worked closely with Paul Hamra from Hamra Head Marketing and it was through him that we gained the encouragement and inspiration to go for it in a big way.

When we moved to the new address we wanted to make an impact and through Paul’s help, things really took off in an amazing way. Because of my creative drive and the jewellery art we produced, Paul decided that for our opening week our store should have living art windows. With our encouragement he chose six performances, Monday to Saturday, beginning on the first day with a musical theme – a beautiful female harpist playing in the window, dressed in cream chiffon, draped in pearls and surrounded with cream rose petals set the scene. The perfume in the store was intoxicating and the music was sublime. The traffic on Greenhill Road was treated to a vision of jewellery elegance in a stunning new gallery setting.

Day two and our male model began his show. The theme was ‘bridegroom on his wedding day’. He was dressed in a red bath robe and on a coat stand nearby were his dark wedding suit, shirt and tie complete with cuff links, and on his table the bride-to-be’s wedding ring sitting at the ready.



Coffee and a copy of the wedding vows at his side, he sat in the window reading the paper and only when he moved did the passer-by realise he was real. By 10am he was getting a little bored so once an hour he ditched the robe stripping down to red silk boxers. The public reaction confirmed that he was not unattractive. He caused a near traffic jam! Added to this we had a number of businesses adjacent and all the female staff organised their breaks so they were outside the window for the next reveal. He danced around seemingly oblivious to the crowd outside. With so much attention one could ponder whether the wedding ever took place at all?

Wednesday and the scene was more subdued.


Larissa our female model lay on a gold and red couch draped in gold silk and covered in pearls and diamonds. Roses, chocolates and champagne her only company she even received a marriage proposal from a male lunching at Grimaldi’s Restaurant across the road. He stood in front of the window with ‘Will you marry me?’ on a large piece of paper. So romantic but unfortunately he was turned down!



Thursday and our two bejewelled male and female models played chess with plenty of interaction from the crowd outside as to which should be the next winning move. Late night trading saw them dancing the night away to the enjoyment of the passing traffic. They were fantastic!


Friday and Larissa appeared again as the Sally Bowles character from Cabaret. Two Ladies, Money and Maybe This Time were the favourite songs and Larissa mimed them beautifully. There seemed to be a few empty champagne bottles at the end of the day – of course only props?!
Saturday, and this was our last performance. No-one had remembered this was John Martin’s Pageant Day and the roads were busy. We had employed four models, two female and two male and they were to appear naked except for skimpy bras and undies for the girls and G-strings for the boys. They stood in our front window like mannequins and were gradually body painted with clothes and draped in jewellery. The traffic was so heavy, even at 9am, and we could not believe there was not a traffic accident in front of us as there were at times brakes screeching and horns being tooted – what an amazing finish to an amazing week!

Paul Hamra’s idea had paid off as we were the talk of the town. His marketing strategy was very clever as very few dollars were spent for maximum exposure and comment. I have attached some photos, but sadly I can’t find the photo of our harpist in my archives.

During our time at Greenhill Road Glenside, I entered and won many design awards including a South Sea Pearl Consortium Award judged and given in Broome WA and more importantly Supreme Winner of The Jewel Of Adelaide, which is still to date the most important local prize I have received.

My inspiration came from a trip overseas. In 1998 Helen and I had returned from a dream trip to Europe and in Milan I recorded in a sketch the shape of the top of a modern pillar decoration. It was an elliptical form similar to the cross section of an aeroplane wing if you cut it through. From this shape I designed twin brooches, to be worn separately or together, one larger in brushed yellow gold and one slightly smaller in brushed white gold with one of the five sections completely pave set with diamonds.


The judging panel’s decision (including Italy’s Lorena Tagliamonte) was unanimous and the sensation for me surrounded by my wife and family on the gala night at Adelaide’s newly opened Convention Centre was overwhelming. I had always believed that to be among the winners is great but to be the outright winner is an unbelievable adrenaline rush. I did have trouble sleeping that night and woke up hoping that the night before hadn’t been a dream. It wasn’t!

I think the thing that made me proudest was not just the winning prize but the proof of the unfaltering belief that Helen has always had in my talent and how she has supported me throughout the years. As customers and friends have often commented, I am so fortunate to have had a wife, partner, and best friend by my side through all these years and what was also wonderful was to be able to celebrate this award together with our beautiful children. It is something I will remember for the rest of my life.


Even more special, on the same night Matthew won an award for the most Progressive Pearl Design Piece for his beautiful South Sea pearl and yellow gold brooch. It was truly a win, win family situation.
I have a few more photos to share including another great commission – The Million Dollar Hat which Paul Hamra arranged with SA Racing. We crafted the hat from a form created by a milliner at Adelaide Hatters and I decorated it with thirty huge South Sea Pearls on white gold wires. The largest, 20mm in size, was valued at $100,000 alone. It was showcased at all the SA race meetings during the racing season in Adelaide in 1999. The article appeared in newspapers in Kentucky, Maryland, New York, London, Hong Kong, Dubai and Paris.


In closing don’t forget to come in and view our Christmas Collection 2016 as we are fulfilling our first orders already, so don’t miss out!

Lots of love



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